Choosing the No. 1 running back this coming season will be tougher than usual, but Gurley proved that he was the best fantasy back in 2017, while Le'Veon Bell was great and could take the title back. I think a lot comes down to touchdowns, and Gurley was the no-doubt No. 1 option, while in Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown is right up there with Bell in importance.
Bell's contract will be a talking point until it isn't, but he will most likely be on the field for Week 1 as a Pittsburgh Steeler, and that's a good spot for him and his fantasy prospects, as his usage numbers are tremendous and his offensive line knows how to block for him.
Elliott has to be in consideration for the No. 1 slot as well, as he averaged around the same amount of fantasy points per game as Bell. Elliott's only downfall compared to Bell is that he doesn't see the same amount of work in the receiving game. Elliott does get a healthy amount though and is about as locked in as a top target as a player can get.
Brown beats out the other top receivers due to his consistency and extremely high floor. Beckham and Hopkins have just as much upside as Brown, but they just haven't proven they have that consistency yet.
Nuk has had bad luck with quarterbacks, but last season, he still put up huge numbers with rotten quarterback play, while also showing that a healthy DeShaun Watson can only help him.
6. David Johnson, (RB No. 4)RB, Cardinals. Bye: 9.
We know what Johnson can do, and it's pretty amazing, but we don't know who will be the quarterback for his team and if that person can keep the offense moving. If the Cardinals get someone who isn't awful, I expect Johnson's draft stock to push Bell and Gurley.
Beckham Jr. probably has more upside than both of these guys, but a not-that-effective Eli Manning is what knocks his ranking down to third for me. It is nice to have such a strong group of receivers and running backs to pick from for your first round.
What do you do with a talent like Jones, who can't seem to score touchdowns? You rank them high because they still put up good numbers without the touchdowns, plus he can sometimes, once in a blue moon, get into the end zone. And, Jones' three touchdowns last season were an outlier even for him, so expect 6-8, which are around his average. If he would have gotten just six touchdowns this season, he would have finished as a top-four fantasy receivers.
Hunt had a great rookie campaign and should be set up for another season as the lead back. My hope is that a full offseason with Kansas City will help him as a blocker and receiver, allowing him more work overall.
Kamara did a lot with just 202 overall touches last season, so there is, of course, a chance he will regress on his per-touch basis, but the fact that he saw over 100 targets keeps me believing he'll have trouble falling from his overall numbers. Two hundred touches, when they come at the right time and the Saints create space for him to work, are good enough for me to feel safe about a repeat performance.
Thomas had trouble getting into the end zone in 2017, as the Saints were often run-heavy, but he's the no-doubt No. 1 receiver on a good offense. I expect we'll see an increase to better touchdown numbers moving forward.
McCoy gets a year older, but he also hasn't shown that he's slowed down much. The Bills will have a new quarterback and coaching staff, but the addition of Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator should help their running game and McCoy in turn.